Re: Break backwards compatibility already: it’s time. Ignore the haters. I trust you.

Mirimir mirimir at
Tue May 22 05:14:43 CEST 2018

On 05/21/2018 03:38 PM, Mark Rousell wrote:
> On 22/05/2018 02:16, Mauricio Tavares wrote:
>>       Stupid question: what is wrong with a "encrypt/decrypt old
>> format" flag/config option? If I have the need to use old stuff, I can
>> turn that on. All I see here is a "do not open old stuff" as a default
>> setting which should solve most issues.
> There would be nothing wrong with that whatsoever from the perspective
> of users who need to access old encrypted data (e.g. archival access
> purposes), which is the particular use case I have been pointing out.

As I read the manual for gpg v2.2, that seems possible. The hard part,
of course, is knowing what options to set. Perhaps there could be a FAQ.

> However, I don't think this would satisfy those who want to ensure that
> users cannot encrypt /new/ data with legacy standards. In order to
> prevent users from doing this (which, to be clear, is something I agree
> with) there needs to be some way to make it difficult or impossible to
> encrypt new data with legacy standards /whilst allowing decryption of
> legacy-encrypted data so as not to cut off long-time users with a
> legitimate present day use case/.

Again, as I read the manual, one can set all sorts of horrible options
for encryption. Some have been deprecated, though. What I don't know is
whether ancient PGP default behavior can be forced in gpg v2.2. I hope
not. But even if so, it'd take considerable understanding.

> If it is ultimately considered to be absolutely necessary to prevent new
> data being encrypted with old standards then personally I'd like to see
> a decryption-only program that would allow use cases involving access to
> legacy-encrypted data to continue unmolested with maintained software
> whilst allowing new data to be encrypted only with software versions
> that have dropped backward compatibility.

I tend to agree. But who would create and maintain that?

> In large part it seems to me that there is the usual (in discussions
> like this) lack of recognition of the many and varied use cases that
> software like GnuPG can be and is put to. Calls for *all* backwards
> compatibility to be end-of-lifed do not take into account the fact that
> backward compatibility in terms of decryption capability are still valid
> use cases in the present day and should rightly and properly be
> supported with maintained software.

Again, I don't think that's part of the plan. But I'm no expert.

> I agree that preventing new data encryption with legacy standards is
> desirable. Just don't throw other users (who need to decrypt old
> standards and old data with currently maintained software) under the bus
> to get to that state.

I totally agree.

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